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ON SOME IRIDESCENT FILMS*
[Philosophical Magazine, Vol. xxiv. pp. 751—755, 1912.]
THE experiments now to be described originated in an accidental observation. Some old lantern-plates, from which the gelatine films had been cleaned off a few years before (probably with nitric acid), being required for use, were again placed in dilate nitric acid to ensure cleanliness.- From these plates a gas-flame burning over the dish -was seen reflected with colour, of which the cause was not obvious. On examination in daylight a dry plate was observed to be iridescent, but so slightly that the fact might easily escape attention. But when the plate was under water and suitably illuminated, the brilliancy was remarkably enhanced. Upon this question of illumination almost everything depends. The window-shutter of one of the rooms in my laboratory has an aperture about 4 inches square. In front-of this the dish of water is placed and at the bottom of the dish a piece of dark-coloured glass. In the water the plate under observation is tilted, so as to separate the reflexions of the sky as given by the plate and by the glass underneath. In this way a dark background is ensured. At the corners and edges of the plate the reflected light is white, then follow dark bands, and afterwards the colours which suggest reflexion from- a thin plate. On this view it is necessary to suppose that the iridescent film is thinnest at the outside and thickens towards the interior, and further, that the material constituting the film has an index intermediate between those of the glass and of the water. In this way the general behaviour is readily explained, the fact that the colours are so feeble in air being attributed to the smallness of the optical difference between the film and the glass underneath. In the water there would be a better approach to equality between the reflexions at the outer and inner surfaces" of the film.
From the first I formed the opinion that the films were due to the use of a silicate substratum in the original preparation, but as the history of the
* Bead before the British Association at Dundee. to